While Concerns Over Fracking Grow, Four Pennsylvania Summer Camps To Host Drilling Operations

Imagine a summer camp director showing you around the facilities: the cabins, the mess hall, the waterfront, the baseball field and…the natural gas drilling operation?

According to a story in the Jewish Daily Forward, that’s what may happen at four Jewish summer camps in Pennsylvania this fall. There are about 30 Jewish camps located in the Marcellus Shale area covering New York and Pennsylvania — four of those camps signed leases that would open up fracking operations at the camps:

The technology used in the wells could allow extraction of gas without any well pads being placed on the camp properties. But the drilling companies do have the right to drill wells at the camps — in some cases, during camping season.

The leases were actually signed a couple years ago. But a commission at the Delaware River Basin halted drilling in areas of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware in order to set up new regulations to prevent water contamination. That ban may be lifted this fall — allowing Hess, the company leasing the property, to begin drilling at the summer camps.


Hess says the lease terms make sure drilling can’t “unreasonably interfere” with operations. But Hess will be allowed to drill while camp sessions are underway and fracking operations could come to within 500–1,000 feet of camp structures.

According to the story, one camp director felt pressured to sign the leases:

In a telephone conversation with the Forward, Robinson defended his camp’s decision to sign a Hess lease, saying, among other things, that he felt he had no choice under Pennsylvania law. Gas companies, he claimed, could eventually force landowners to take payment for their resources if enough of their neighbors signed. But in fact, such laws don’t apply to Marcellus Shale wells, though they do affect other areas of the state.

Stephen Saunders, a Scranton, Pa.-based attorney who specializes in oil and gas law and in environmental law and represented B’nai B’rith during its negotiations with Hess, said that Robinson’s misconception was a common one. Some of the agents seeking leases on behalf of the gas companies, known as land men, were known to misrepresent the Pennsylvania law in order to convince landowners to sign, according to Saunders.

Meanwhile, environmental concerns over natural gas fracking grow stronger. After continuing reports from communities about groundwater contamination, researchers at Duke University tested 68 private groundwater wells around the country sited close to fracking operations and found that 85% had levels of methane 17 times higher than wells located more than a kilometer away from drilling sites.


A recent investigative piece by the New York Times found that 1.3 billion gallons of waste water was created by drilling operations in Pennsylvania, most of which was sent to waste water treatment plants not able to process the toxic chemicals used in fracking operations. The investigation also found that 130 wells around the country were discharging waste water with levels of radiation 100 to 1,000 times the accepted legal limit.

This may bring new meaning to the term “bug juice” at summer camp.

Below are earlier comments from the Facebook commenting system:

Chris Baker

Ah, the fun we had that summer at Camp Fracktastic! Could have done without the tumor, though…

July 14 at 9:08pmJeff Brennan

Going for the money..For myself there is no amount of money that I would trade for my childrens health. Isn’t it sad the allure the cash has on some people?

July 15 at 7:55amWillard Bush

I hope the camps make good money off the wells, because when the parents find out the dangers involved, the kids will be sent to a camp without drilling!

July 16 at 8:26amMarie At Moab

Idiots! Idiots! Idiots! No amount of money or gas in the world will make up for the loss of valuable drinking water. Water will always be more valuable then gas and they are destroying it!

July 15 at 11:29amCharles Costello

Pretty soon we won’t have clean water, thanks Mr. New Republican Governer!

July 15 at 7:30amMichael A. Lewis

Let’s start Nature Rights summer camps on fracking sites.

July 14 at 4:43pmMichael A. Lewis

Let’s have Nature Rights Summer camps on fracking sites.

July 14 at 5:13pm

Paul Magnus​al-gas/2011-07-14-mark-ruf​falo-on-fracking-gas-is-a-​bridge-to-nowhere-videoJuly 14 at 6:27pm


Wow,… I’m sure the parents of the attending kids are just going to LOVE all the cancer issues after drinking and swimming in flammable water. Oh, lets not forget all the dirt that’s will be contaminated that they get to play in,… Weeeeee!

July 14 at 8:06pmBabeann Razillard


July 16 at 9:13amBabeann Razillard

people you live around here you need to take a minute and read nothing good has come from this.. jobs they say funny b/c no one is hired they’re all up from tenesse…

July 16 at 9:22am


Uhh…I thought summer camps were supposed to be about fun?

July 14 at 10:21pm